Equipment Workers ‘Start Things Up’ In Las Vegas: ‘Start Us Up USA!’ Campaign Aims for Transportation Investments, Jobs

September 29, 2009

LAS VEGAS, Sept. 29 /PRNewswire/ — Construction equipment workers and business leaders today launched Start Us Up USA!, a grassroots campaign during a rally in Las Vegas calling on the federal government to move quickly to reauthorize a critical transportation bill. This bill will provide the necessary funding for our nation’s infrastructure which will spur a jobs recovery. The launch was followed by a caravan of heavy construction equipment, idled by a scarcity of new federal funding in transportation, parading down the Las Vegas strip.

“The construction equipment industry is in a deep depression and we have lost 37 percent of our workforce nationwide the past few years,” said Toby Mack, President and CEO of the Associated Equipment Distributors. Dennis Slater, President of the Association of Equipment Manufacturers added: “Time is running out for the men and women of the construction and equipment industries without long-term federal transportation investment.” AEM and AED are co-leading the Start Us Up USA! campaign.

New research from IHS Global Insight, released today, shows that while the recession abates for some sectors of the U.S. economy, the construction equipment industry remains stalled. Among the key findings:

  • Two out of every 25 jobs lost during the current recession (or eight percent) can be traced to this downturn in the construction equipment industry.
  • Job losses in this sector are significantly worse than other industries – like auto and finance – that have received government bailouts.
  • The main culprit is a more than 50 percent drop in construction equipment spending since its peak in 2006, which coincides with declining infrastructure investment this decade.
  • Since 2006, Nevada has lost more than 6,300 construction jobs and $900 million worth of economic output.

MaryKaye Cashman, Chairman and CEO of the Cashman Equipment Company in Henderson, Nevada, the state’s seventh-largest privately held business, attests to the challenges the industry is facing: “Our Caterpillar dealership has experienced a decline in sales by 50 percent, and has 25 percent fewer employees today than at its peak a few years ago.” Her company is typical of so many others in the industry.

Start Us Up USA! is rallying support for swift government action. Current federal transportation funding expires tomorrow on September 30, and the U.S. Congress needs to quickly pass a new multi-year reauthorization bill or projects like the expansion and renovation of I-15 in Las Vegas are at risk of stalling. Many experts consider that legislation to be the best opportunity for Congress to help stimulate the slumping construction sector this year and address our nation’s crumbling infrastructure. Improvement projects gives communities more transit options, safer roads, improves congested roads and decreases greenhouse gases while providing millions of good-paying construction jobs.

Randy Highland, President of the Las Vegas Chapter of the Association of General Contractors (AGC), and Terry Jicinsky, Senior Vice President of Operations for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority, lent their support to the Start Us Up USA! campaign at the rally.

Campaign leaders also unveiled a new website – www.StartUsUpUSA.com – where visitors can find the latest information, share stories on how the construction equipment depression has affected them, post photos and videos, and learn how they can help.

Following formal remarks, a caravan of idle heavy construction equipment including a motor grader, wheel loader, excavator and paddle wheel, fired up their engines and paraded down “The Strip,” taking their message to Las Vegas locals and visitors alike with banners saying “It’s Time To Start Us Up USA!” and “The recession is a construction equipment depression.”

Equipment industry workers and leaders will be organizing similar grassroots events across the country. The campaign will culminate in Washington, D.C. on Wednesday, October 28th with a rally on Capitol Hill, and organizers expect to target Chicago, Louisville and potentially other cities for idle equipment caravans along the way.

The Association of Equipment Manufacturers (www.aem.org) is the North American-based international trade association for the off-road equipment manufacturing industry serving the construction, agriculture, forestry, mining and utility markets. AEM is headquartered in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, with offices in Washington, D.C., Ottawa, Beijing and a European presence in Brussels. It represents more than 800 companies.

The Associated Equipment Distributors (www.aednet.org) is an international trade association representing companies involved in the distribution, rental and support of equipment used in construction, mining, forestry, power generation, agriculture and industrial applications.

SOURCE The Association of Equipment Manufacturers; The Associated Equipment Distributors

Source: newswire

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